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Armed Groups

The 21st Century Threat

Peter G. Thompson

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Paperback
eBook
In this age of asymmetric warfare, battles are fought more and more against armed groups of opponents such as terrorists, insurgents, or transnational criminal organizations. This text is the first to categorize armed groups and analyze their characteristics in a systematic way to provide a thorough overview of all types of armed groups and the role they play in today’s security environment.

Drawing on international case studies and histories, the work analyzes the objectives, strategies, and internal composition of armed groups and the environments that foster them. It demonstrates that armed groups often behave in an “hybrid” fashion, be it the criminal actions terrorists groups take to fund their goals or the role terrorist actions play in criminal organizations. As such dividing lines blur, governments need to figure out how, where, and when these armed groups are operating in zones of conflict or peace, as well as their motivations, structures, and ultimate objectives.

This thorough and groundbreaking study will provide students with a strategic view of who armed groups are, how to analyze them, and what geopolitical and geostrategic factors influence their origins and operations.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 246Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-2652-4 • Hardback • August 2014 • $99.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-4422-2653-1 • Paperback • August 2014 • $39.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-2654-8 • eBook • August 2014 • $38.99 • (£24.95)
Peter G. Thompson is associate professor of international security studies at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University, Washington, DC.
1. Introduction
Importance of the Topic
What Are “Armed Groups”?
Book Objectives
Armed Groups and International Relations Theory
Conclusion
Discussion Questions
Recommended Reading
Notes

2. Conflict in the Twenty-First Century
Interstate Conflict Decreasing
The “New War” Paradigm?
Irregular Warfare
Role of Geopolitical and Geostrategic Factors
US Participation in Intrastate Conflicts
Armed-Group Threats to the United States
Discussion Questions
Recommended Readings
Notes

3. What Are Armed Groups?
Distinguishing Between Armed Groups and State Militaries
Common Armed-Group Characteristics
Armed-Group Formation
Challenging the “Nonstate Actor” Label
Discussion Questions
Organization
Membership
Ideology
Objectives
Discussion Questions
Recommended Readings
Notes

4. Armed-Group Archetypes
Insurgents
Terrorists
Transnational Criminal Organizations
Militias
“Commercial” Armed Groups
Evolution, “Hybridization,” and the Crime–Terror Nexus
Discussion Questions
Recommended Readings
Notes

5. Internal Characteristics
Leadership
Organization
Membership
Ideology
Objectives
Discussion Questions
Recommended Readings
Notes

6. External Characteristics
Strategy
Tactics
Strategic Communications
External Support
Discussion Questions
Recommended Readings
Notes

7. Combating Armed Groups
Combating Grievances and the Environment
Military, Political, Legal, and Economic Constraints on Governments
General Countering Strategies
Combating the Armed Group
Conclusion
Discussion Questions
Recommended Readings
Notes

8. Conclusion
Armed-Group Adaptation and Evolution
Future Armed-Group Threats
Combating Armed Groups
Three Questions
Recommended Readings
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Vital read for thinking about one of the principle agents of the new world disorder.
Dr. James Jay Carafano, Vice President, Heritage Foundation


An essential and hugely welcome guide to understanding the myriad of armed groups that now operate in an era where irregular warfare is the norm.
Theo Farrell, University of London


This volume provides an interesting and insightful view of how today’s armed groups have become a real threat to the international community. Peter Thompson uses international relations theory to give a broad tour of the key aspects of modern armed groups. He not only analyzes their organization and capabilities, but also understands their role as main actors and profiteers in globalization and the manner in which they address the four fundamental issues that affect every group of this type, regardless of ideology or purpose. The author provides an academic framework and clear wording to prepare 'the student, the analyst and the policy maker to take a more rigorous approach to analyzing armed groups, with the aim of understanding the real threats the United States and others face and the way those threats manifest themselves'. This text should also be read by practitioners, since it fills in the many gaps left at the tactical level in addressing the connection between the various levels of defense management and security policy.

General Carlos Ospina, Former Commander Colombian Armed Forces


• Provides a comprehensive analysis of all types of armed groups

• Provides a framework for analyzing these armed groups

• Provides foundational information and practical policy implications

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